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December 19, 2008
A senior Pakistan board official has said Sri Lanka have confirmed they will tour Pakistan next month in place of India, who called off their scheduled tour to the country on Thursday.
Saleem Altaf, the PCB's chief operating officer, said Sri Lanka are expected to play three Tests, three ODIs and a Twenty20 game against Pakistan following their tour of Bangladesh, which ends on January 14.
"We thank Sri Lankan Cricket for confirming a tour in place of India," Altaf told AFP. "We have sent a full itinerary to Sri Lanka and as soon as it is finalised we will announce it."
Earlier this week, Arjuna Ranatunga, the SLC chairman, said the board was confident of the security measures in place in Pakistan and would not hesitate to send a team there.
The BCCI's decision, which was prompted following advice from the Indian government, has led to huge disappointment in Pakistan and some concern over the future of the game there. "Pakistan will suffer both financially and cricket-wise," Ramiz Raja, a former captain and administrator, said. "But India in a way is also dependent on Pakistan, and when the two countries play each other, they improve and the following of the game increases."
The Indian government's directive said it was not feasible "in the prevailing circumstances", a reference to the fallout of the Mumbai attacks which India alleges had links to elements in Pakistan. Ramiz, though, felt cricket would have helped improve the current volatile situation between the two countries.
Wasim Akram, another former captain, said the cancellation would lessen the charm of Test cricket which was already under pressure from the Twenty20 format. "Deep inside we feel for the victims of Mumbai and hope such incidents do not take place again," Wasim said. "We toured India in 1999 despite tensions and death threats. Now I hope the temperature will go down and cricket will resume because it is very important that India and Pakistan play each other."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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